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Inequity in Nigeria's Party Politics

08 March 2014

By Ado Umar Muhammad
aumo21@yahoo.com

Although they were among the prime movers for the successful merger of three major opposition parties and factions of two others to form the All Progressives Congress (APC), Malam Ibrahim Shekarau and Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa recently shocked many Nigerians when they defected to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

As former governors of Kano and Sokoto states, Shekarau and Bafarawa were among leaders of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) which lost its registration certificate to pave way for the emergence of APC. With no party to return to, they were therefore forced by circumstances to seek refuge in the PDP against their perceived personal and political convictions.

Some people were in fact disappointed that the two men chose a party which is diametrically opposed to all that they claimed to have stood for. Yet others saw nothing wrong with it, because with top leaders of the PDP crossing over to APC almost on a daily basis, the difference between the two parties is now only in name.

So far five governors, 37 Reps, 11 Senators, and lately ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar have dumped the PDP for APC. What remains now is for former president Olusegun Obasanjo and more legislators to follow suit. If this happens, there is no doubt about it that ex-PDP elements would ultimately control the commanding heights of APC and the party will truly become the "alternative PDP" it is already derisively dubbed by some critics.

Shekarau and Bafarawa opted out of APC, according to them, not only because of its failure to do the needful as designed by its leaders six months after its registration but because they would not get justice at state and national levels of the party. Firstly, they were piqued that when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari led a powerful delegation to Kano and Sokoto to woo their governors they were neither informed beforehand, invited, nor briefed afterwards.

And shortly after their defection, the governors were given the unwarranted privilege of having five out of nine slots in the party's state executive councils, leaving only four for the three major legacy parties. But more perplexing is the grossly undemocratic reward of automatic tickets given to the defected ex-PDP legislators to contest the 2015 elections. Shekarau said when he complained formally about this and other infractions against the party's constitution through a petition signed by him and over 250 supporters it was neither acknowledged nor responded to six weeks later.

After the visit to Kano by the top leaders some supporters of Shekarau began to blame Buhari for complicity in the attempt to sideline their leader. To absolve him from blame, Buba Galadima claimed on a radio station in Kano that he and two other people, Sule Y. Hamma and one Ambassador Waziri, were actually the brains behind the visits to woo the G-7 governors. He said it was they who insisted that Shekarau and Bafarawa must not be involved in the talks.

What can we now deduce from this? It is a confession of a deliberate plot to push some people and their leaders out of APC. It is also a proof that members of the infamous TBO who were accused of sabotaging Buhari's three attempts for the Presidency through manipulation of party affairs and who later announced publically that they had parted ways with him, are back again to play the same script.

However, rather than convince his listeners by justifying their suggestion to APC leaders, as one of those who should be held to account for serially scuttling Buhari's ambition, he kept ranting in a manner that betrayed bitterness and vendetta. And so with men like these having the ears of Tinubu and Buhari, how on earth would the former governors ever get justice from APC?

Without doubt, Shekarau and Bafarawa were unfairly treated by APC leaders in a way that was absolutely undemocratic. Besides non-observance of constitutional provisions, surely there is inequity in the concession given to the G-5 governors regarding number of seats in state executive councils and the reward of automatic tickets given to their protégés.

But where is the wisdom in all this? Is it because the governors have the wherewithal to finance the party, rent the crowds or rig the elections for APC? I have reservations about the decision of the ex-governors but I certainly endorse their move. I believe they are justified in leaving the party as surely some officials of the party had malevolent intentions towards them.

Those who are disappointed that the two men have joined the PDP rather than remain in APC because of the general belief that the party is out to save us from the alleged misrule of the PDP have right to express their opinion. However, I pray to God that their hope is not misplaced. This is because recently, Ijaw elder Chief Edwin Clark charged that Yorubas have no leaders because those who now claim to be their leaders can be bought. Cast your mind back to 2011 and recall the betrayal Nuhu Ribadu suffered and you may agree that he might know something we don't.

So with this scenario the hype that APC is the saviour of our people may be far-fetched. In any case, is the party not proving now that it is as PDP as they come? And how sure is anyone that the APC will be better than PDP in any conceivable way? Many young people are under the illusion that with Buhari at the top Nigeria will be a Utopia with sufficient supply of electricity and fuel, running taps, good roads, excellent health-care delivery, etc.

I sincerely hope that something even near that will ever be possible. But these highly impressionable young people will be profoundly disappointed if this is not the case in the event that APC wins in 2015. However, will it be the same Buhari of the mid-1980s with a swagger stick in his hand? Will he be able to operate as efficiently in a democratic setting as he did three decades ago? Time will tell.

 

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